Jump to content

Basic notes before you start to learn chinese


Recommended Posts

The following statements are coming from all my personal learning experience. If there is missing something, any supplement will be appreciate.

1. Pronunciation (汉语拼音 Pinyin)

In ancient China, there was no alphabet. For standardization, until the 90s in last century, Chinese phonetic alphabets (Chinese Pinyin) had been carried out and widely used for teaching.

Pronunciation of Pinyin is far from well-known English alphabet, even some of them don’t exist, such as üe. Therefore, when you practice these special pronunciations, you should pay attention to the shape of your mouth, teeth and tongue because Chinese pronunciation is more complex and unusual. A vivid teaching video is essential for a beginner.

Normally, each Chinese syllable (Pinyin) is divided into two parts: onset and rime. For example, 中 (zhōng), zh is onset and ōng is the rime. However, some characters can be without onset, such as 安 (ān)

Even you can pronounce all the onset and rime, but you can’t pronounce an unknown character without Pinyin. For an example, how to pounce“泰山”without “Tài shān”. On the contrary, an unknown English word can be pronounced as long as you know the pronunciation rule.

2. Tone (声调)

Four tones can be dated from the ancient Chinese language. Let’s take “a” for an example, ā, á, ǎ, à. One single character could have more than one tone, called “多音字”,and the meaning of it will change from one tone to another.

3. No nominalization or similar converting

It is common to see changing “move” to “movement” or “anger” to “angry” in English. But, converting does not happen in Chinese.

4. Grammar

The biggest characteristic in standard Chinese grammar, compared with other languages, is that there is no strictly morphological change. Noun has no changes with respect to gender or number, and Verb conjugation is not used anymore in different tense.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you very much for this interesting introduction Li Gao.  :grin:

However, I have to point out that there are some points that need to be clarified.

You wrote that "In ancient China, there was no alphabet". While this is of course true, it still implicitly says that there is a Chinese alphabet now, which of course is not the case. Later on you are talking about Chinese phonetic alphabet. This term is also somewhat confusing. Wikipedia defines Chinese Pinyin as follows:

"Pinyin, formally Hanyu Pinyin, is the official phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet in China, Taiwan,[1] and Singapore."

Moreover, you are saying "Four tones can be dated from the ancient Chinese language." This is also somewhat problematic, as Chinese used to be a NON-tonal language. The tones evolved over time and ancient Chinese (well we would have to define first what is meant by saying Ancient Chinese) was a NON-tonal language.

Later on you are saying that there is no nominalization in Chinese. That is also not 100 % accurate as you have for instance the character 者, which can nominalize "phrases".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pronunciation of Pinyin is an interesting one. The fact that the pinyin 'X' is pronounced like the English 'sh' is one that gets most people. It seems very strange how different some of the pinyin pronunciations are from the English. Probably the most unusual of all the transliterations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...